Digital Directions - Winter 2013 - (Page 42)

Digital SHIFT By_Michelle R. Davis A rizona’s Vail school district is the kind of customer that gives big textbook publishers pause. The 12,000-student school district swapped out printed textbooks for digital material in 2006, but students aren’t using e-textbooks. Instead, the district collects instructional materials the way a teenager creates a song playlist, taking digital content from various places, often for free. Meanwhile, for a fee, the Vail district shares its electronic library of resources with 68 partner districts across the state. “We are not beholden at all to the big textbook publishers,” says Superintendent Calvin Baker. “We used to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in the textbook cycle, but we don’t do that anymore.” The push continues for school districts to move away from paper textbooks and toward digital curricula and e-textbooks. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged educators last year to move quickly to adopt digital textbooks and materials. Also last year, the Federal Communications Commission and the Education Department released a report, the “Digital Textbook Playbook,” which provided a blueprint for schools to make the shift. Florida, for one, has already adopted legislation requiring districts to spend half their instructional-materials budgets on digital content by 2015-16, and other states are considering legislation promoting digital textbooks. In this atmosphere, big textbook publishers must change their strategies and they must do it quickly, educators say, to provide schools with the innovative digital material they’re seeking. This flux is also occurring as districts in nearly all the states must consider their textbook needs in light of the Common Core State Standards in English/ language arts and math. And how do the big textbook publishers today plan to meet the new demands? Interviews with officials of the “big three”— London-based Pearson, New York City-based McGraw-Hill Education, and Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—suggest they’re taking different approaches. They’re developing new products, and new methods for educators to use those products, that they hope will help them keep customers and expand their market shares by doing a better 42 >>

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Digital Directions - Winter 2013

Digital Directions - Winter 2013
Editor’s Note
DD Site Visit
Bits & Bytes
Digital Storytelling
Online Courses Turn on Gaming
Reading in the Age of Digital Devices
Movers & Shakers
State, Federal Leadership Seen as Key to Innovation
Open-Source Opportunities
BYOD Boundaries
E-Cloud Forecast
Digital Shift

Digital Directions - Winter 2013